2018 COLGATE BRIGHT SMILES, BRIGHT FUTURES COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD WINNER
The Junior League of Cincinnati, OH
Refugee families are often some of the most overlooked groups in any community. Dropped into a foreign place, often in the most traumatic of circumstances, these families are often left to fend for themselves. What few services are offered on a federal or state level usually only last for the first 45 to 90 days of their resettlement in the United States. After that brief window, these families are left alone to navigate complex systems, new cultural norms and immense language barriers.
While many of Cincinnati’s local organizations provided some services for these families, none offered a comprehensive referral support system for people who often speak limited English and have experienced trauma.
The Junior League of Cincinnati saw a huge need to close the gap between the services being provided and refugees’ immediate and long-term needs. It wasn’t just about stabilizing them and giving them a sense of support, but mapping out the pathways to self-sufficiency, and promoting acceptance on a larger community level through volunteerism.
The JLC decided the best way to lead this initiative was to create a non-profit organization with a clear identity and mission. And with that, RefugeeConnect was born.
Working one-on-one with refugees to ensure successful acclimation into their new home, the organization also provides technical assistance to local businesses, non-profits, and volunteers to increase cultural competency and holistic services directed towards these refugee communities.
RefugeeConnect has introduced a variety of interconnected programs, including the “Stories of Survival” Speaker Series, Ambassador Volunteer Training and the Virtual Resource Center—as well as scholarships and community education campaigns.
By celebrating these unique cultures, RefugeeConnect has helped developed long-term relationships reaching over 2000 participants in the past year.
To this day, the JLC is the only organization in Greater Cincinnati working to shape and empower the entire refugee resource ecosystem.